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How to get started with DIY around the home
DIY can seem daunting if you’ve never got beyond putting flat-pack furniture together before. It can feel like you need to buy an entire garage full of tools before you even start, or you might worry you’ll do something drastically wrong if you attempt any home improvements. While some jobs certainly should be left to the professionals – particularly those that involve gas or electrics – you can get stuck into other simple projects without spending too much cash or, hopefully, creating too much damage.
If you can’t afford to – or just don’t want to – buy a proper toolbox, you can just store your tools inside any sturdy and secure container. It’s so much easier to keep everything in place with a built-for-purpose toolbox though, and you can get a basic one for about £5 from many DIY stores. The best way to stock a toolbox is to build up your collection gradually – that way you won’t spend loads on tools you don’t need. The basics you should have include:
-Claw hammer – which can be used for both hitting nails in and pulling them out. You can get a basic one for under £10.
-Six-way screwdriver – for basic DIY, you don’t need to get a full set of different screwdrivers; you can just get one with six changeable bits for just £2.
-Tape measure – essential for DIY, even if you think you can mentally work out how long something needs to be – never rely on guesswork. These cost around £2.50.
-Torch – if you have to do emergency DIY in the dark because the electricity’s gone out, you’ll need a torch so you can see what’s going on. You can get one from the pound shop, but you may be better splashing out for one with a stronger wattage for about a fiver.
-Junior hacksaw – to cut down bits of wood or metal. If you’re planning on anything more intensive, you’ll need a proper saw. You can get a junior hacksaw for £4.
-A selection of screws – for putting any furniture together. These come in different lengths, so you’re best getting a few different ones in. Packs of screws cost between £2 and £5.
-Cordless drill – this is the most expensive item on the list, so only buy it if you have a project that requires a drill and you think you’ll get plenty of use out of it. You can get one from DIY stores for around £20, or splash out and get a better model for about £50.
-Duct tape – for holding stuff together before you attach it more permanently, or for marking where you need to drill a hole. You can get a roll of this for £2.
-Safety glasses – these are essential for any DIY project where sparks or splinters are likely to fly. Keep your eyes protected for about £1.
Before you start ripping holes in your walls, make sure you know what you’re doing. For simple DIY projects, this can just mean watching a few tutorial videos on YouTube or reading a step-by-step guide to make sure you understand the process and know what to do next. If you’re undertaking something a bit more tricky and in-depth, you may want to think about asking for advice. If you have a friend or family member who’s a DIY whiz and has done the project you’re thinking about doing, see if they have any tips or even if they can help you out with it.
Making sure you know what you’re going to do before you do it means that you may be less likely to go wrong. And if you do mess up, don’t panic. If you’re doing basic DIY, it’s unlikely that you’ll do something wrong that can’t be fixed. It’s all part of the learning process.
If you’re looking for a few simple jobs to get started with, you could try painting your front door. This is one of the first things people see when they arrive at your house, so it can make a great first impression if it’s painted neatly. You could also try putting up wallpaper on a feature wall, as this can make a room feel as though it’s been completely redecorated.
Know when to quit
Make sure you check your home insurance before any big DIY jobs. If you break something, you need to know if you’ll be covered for it. Check the details of your insurance policy and see if Accidental Damage cover is mentioned, as this means you’re insured against any DIY disasters like spilling paint everywhere or accidentally knocking a hole through the floor. But if you undertake a job that requires professional training and you’re not qualified, you may invalidate your insurance policy.
If you’re in doubt over any DIY project, get a specialist in to do it for you. Some house improvements should only be attempted by a trained professional, such as anything to do with electricity, gas or more intensive plumbing. However, if you’re a beginner at DIY, you might not want to undertake a bigger project, so wait until you’ve got a few successes under your belt before you try anything too taxing.
*All prices and offers correct at time of writing – 10/11/2014.